When I woke up, I was tied to a chair.
And locked on with iron bindings.
So much for magic.
Even if I could have used magic, my mind was too foggy for the concentration needed to cast spells in the first place. Whatever drug they had used, it was taking its time wearing off, which was probably the intention.
Eventually, as if the world was revealing itself layer-by-layer, the fog in my mind began to peel away, laying bare the details of the room. Now, instead of faint blurs, I could see where I was.
Firstly, I was surrounded by machines. And secondly, the leader Hâfléng was there. Probably waiting for me to wake up. The minute he saw I was awake, he nodded. He walked to the chair and stood in front of it.
“Can you speak yet, Sivva?”
I hesitated. I wasn’t sure. But he seemed to take that as a yes, because he got right down to business.
“Alright, you have one chance to answer these questions I’m going to ask you. And then I’m going to have to make you.”
I met his eyes, and glared straight at him, as if to say, I won’t tell you anything.
All of a sudden, I heard another voice, and another figure came up beside the Hâfléng.
“This is her?”
The leader Hâfléng looked startled, turning to look at the new figure. Then he nodded.
“You drugged her?” the new person asked.
The Hâfléng nodded, bristling. “Of course I drugged her!”
The man beside the Hâfléng laughed. “Calm down! I was just making sure.”
Then man then turned his gaze on me.
“Hm. I don’t recognize you. Shame.”
Why would he recognize me?
“How is she?” he asked, turning back to the Hâfléng.
“She is undamaged. Though she has just recovered from magic overextension,” the Hâfléng admitted. Then he added, “However, we’re about to change that, if she doesn’t answer.”
The man shook his head with a sigh. “Even if you did torture her in any way, I doubt that she would respond. Those Sivvas are trained to hold out against things like that.”
I managed to pull enough strength together for a sentence. “How would you know anything about the Sivva’s training?”
The man laughed. “My legacy is forgotten so soon? You idiot! How would I know? I know, because I am one!”
The story was coming together. But he kept going.
“I lived in Zila myself. I was a valued member! I was on the council of Shivax! But then, the Sivvas exiled me. Cast me away!”
It all came together. “They exiled you… because you were a murderer!” I snapped.
The man seemed amused, as he studied me more closely. “So she remembers me now.”
“Karnax…” I said softly.
Now that I said the name, I knew that I was right. The dark Sivva had been on the high council in Shivax until… he had become a murderer, killing other Sivvas and draining their power to make himself stronger. He had been banished to the humanlands when I was just another trainee, at ten years old. But I still remembered him. Even from ten years ago, I remembered the cold look of hatred in his eyes. He had no mercy, especially for any Sivva.
And I was his prisoner now.
Karnax laughed. “Perfect! So she knows my name.”
His eyes locked on me. “I believe it would be only fair if you told me yours, Sivva, yes?”
“Never,” I replied.
He laughed. “Brave, aren’t you?” He seemed to consider something. “I believe I’ve heard of you before, Sivva. You seem… familiar, somehow.”
“Familiar?” My voice was calm, but inside my heart was racing. If he remembered me, who I was… that could allow him to find a weakness. I could not permit that to happen.
Unfortunately, Karnax seemed to have remembered something.
“Ah yes, you were that trainee that everybody was talking about. The ‘special’ one, with ‘natural talent for magic’.”
My pulse quickened even more. He might be seconds away from remembering my name. Then there would be trouble.
“Honestly, I can’t see what all the fuss is about,” he commented. “If only I could remember the name… ah, I’m sure that it will come to me, in
I hid the relief that flooded through me. My name was still safe. If he knew my given name, it would only be a matter of time before he found a way into
“We are forgetting what we’re here for, though, aren’t we?” Karnax laughed. “Let us continue.”
The leader of the Hâfléngs nodded. “We were just about to begin interrogating her.”
Karnax shook his head, obviously displeased. “No. Leave that to me. You may go.”
Looking annoyed, the Hâfléng leader left. The door slid shut behind him, leaving just me and Karnax.
“You must have been very young when I first saw you,” Karnax mused. He began to pace, circling my chair, an expression of concentration on his face. I let my head drop. The drug had not yet worn off, and my head was still fuzzy from it.
“How long has it been, ten years?” Karnax continued. “Yet you look fairly young still.”
I remained silent. Talking would do me no good.
“I have heard a lot about you, Sivva. My spies in Shivax reported back to me and told me of a Sivva that seemed to be getting more powerful than the others. The youngest to join…”
He was in front of me now, and his eyes focused on me.
So he had heard of me. But that did not mean that he knew anything. All he knew was that I had a lot of skill with magic. But that would not do him any good. And even if I could use my magic, it would do me no good. Karnax was a Sivva with many more years, and much more practice than me. It didn’t matter how much skill I may have had. He would still destroy me easily.
“But I am guessing you have heard of my reputation, yes?” He said.
Head down still, I nodded. I tried to pull my thoughts together, but I could not; the drug had still not worn off.
Karnax nodded, seemingly pleased. “Good, then my story has not been forgotten.”
I continued to remain silent. I knew he would begin to question me soon. Fortunately, the iron bindings would prevent Karnax from using magic, which meant that I would not have to fight against mental probes.
Finally, he stopped his pacing, so that he stood in front of me.
“So, earlier the Hâfléngs told me that a homing pulse was intercepted. A homing pulse that was found to have been located on you. Do you know where this pulse may have come from, perhaps?”
I gathered my focus enough to reply. “No.”
Karnax sighed. “I have this strange feeling that you are not telling the truth, Sivva. You do know where this homing pulse came from. Perhaps you’ve even found some way to contact somebody.”
My mind immediately went to the conversation I’d had with Éif. I did not have time to consider the technicalities of it, seeing as Karnax asked another question.
“Sivva, do we really need to be disagreeable about this?” he sighed. “It’s a simple question, that could not possibly cause you any harm to answer. Although it could cause you a lot of harm if you did not…”
Perhaps it would not cause me any harm, but it could harm my fellow Sivvas, and I cannot allow that.
Karnax shook his head and walked out of my field of view again. Then his voice came from behind me.
“So, where did the pulse come from.”
I shook my head. His voice sounded strange, like it was coming through water.
“I don’t know…”
I was so dizzy… and dazed… and disoriented…
What is this stuff? It’s strong. I thought worriedly. I hoped that whatever drug they were using wouldn’t cause permanent damage to my brain.
When Karnax spoke again, his tone was cold.
“The truth is, Sivva, I was not expecting you to answer. I have no fondness for any people of Simar, especially you Sivvas. So thank you for giving me this opportunity to show them that I mean business.”
I may have been drugged, but there was nothing that could have blocked or dimmed the fear that I was feeling.
I couldn’t see Karnax’s face, but I could imagine that he was smirking.
“Scared now, Sivva?” he said. “Good. You show some intelligence then.”
“If you are- no, sorry, were a Sivva, then you should know that no amount of pain will convince me to answer your questions,” I replied sarcastically.
That must have been the wrong thing to say, because the back of my head began to sting as he slapped it.
“I would not advise being so cocky, you idiot Sivva, seeing as your life is currently in my hands. The Hâfléngs may think you are valuable, but I have no such qualms.”
I tried to contain my fear. I could not show such emotions. It would just give Karnax a weakness to work with. And weakness was not acceptable.
“Unfortunately, I cannot use magic on you, which is a shame. There are many forms of magical torture that I could use, and see how long it takes you to scream. But, as it is, I will have to resort to these cursed machines. We will see how useful they are, yes?”
I remained silent still. The truth was, I was trying to pull together enough thoughts out of my dead brain, but it wasn’t working. All I knew was that I was about to see just how effective those machines could be.
Karnax circled around to the front, so that he could look in my eyes again.
“How convenient that they captured a young one. The younger ones are always weaker. And so much easier to make talk… “ he laughed. “Well, we’ll see how long your training keeps you safe. Eventually, you will break. And then you will tell me everything that I want to know, understand, Sivva?”
I closed my eyes and shook my head. No. No. I will never surrender. Especially not to a traitor like yourself!
I shook my head, once again trying to clear it. But it did not work, and I gave up trying to focus. This drug was too strong…
No. I could not succumb to weakness like that. I had to stay strong. Fight back.
Karnax inspected me, as if looking for any signs of fear or weakness. I gave him none.
“Brave, aren’t you Sivva,” he smirked. “So brave, and strong. Not afraid of anything. I wonder how much you hide beneath that calm unconcerned face. I would imagine that you are much more afraid that you are letting on.”
“If you believe that you will get away with the crimes you have committed, then you are wrong,” I replied evenly. “Your destruction will be long, and very very painful. You know that the judgement of Shivax is swift and merciless for murderers like yourself.”
Karnax shrugged. “Oh, I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it, girl. There is nothing that any of those fools can do to stop me.”
My eyes blazed. The Sivvas of the Council are not fools!
Karnax noticed this and laughed, mistaking my anger for rebellion. “Oh, what, you think that you could stop me? A young Sivva with little experience in true duels? An impulsive and reckless girl, who rushes into danger without a second thought? You can barely think straight right now, I’d imagine. What makes you think that you would stand a chance, Sivva?”
I sighed. The words hurt the most because they were true.
Karnax shook his head. Then he walked over to one of the machines.
“Just relax, Sivva. I’m sure it will make it less painful for you. And if it doesn’t… well, there is not much you can do,” he said mockingly.
He flipped a switch, and the machine beside him hummed to life.
My eyes narrowed as a spark traveled lazily around the outside of the machine and down a wire
attached to the metal cuffs holding me to the chair and preventing me from using magic.
My eyes followed the spark as it reached the cuffs and traveled across them.
For a moment, everything was silent.
And then white bands of electricity shot across my chest.
I locked my mouth shut, but in my head I was screaming.
After what seemed like forever, the humming stopped and the electricity faded away. I fought to avoid showing any pain.
“Not bad, Sivva. But electricity isn’t much, is it?” Karnax laughed. “No, I did not think that you would show any pain. No, I think it is this that will get a reaction out of you.”
He flipped another switch. At first I felt nothing. My first warning was when the metal cuffs began to glow. The glow grew brighter and brighter. And that’s when I began to feel it.
At first it was just heat. But then it became hotter and hotter until it felt like I had set myself on fire. And it kept getting worse. I was still silent, but I knew Karnax was watching as the metal began burning into my skin.
I shook slightly, but I still didn’t scream. I could not.
Karnax didn’t seem to like that.
Because he turned a dial. And it got hotter.
Finally, a soft cry of pain escaped my lips.
Karnax smiled with satisfaction and turned it again.
The heat increased. I felt as if I were in the heart of the sun itself. I opened my mouth, but no sound came out, just a soft gasp. And then… the pain became too much. I slumped against my bindings as black began to tug at the corners of my vision.
Then it stopped.
It just… all stopped.
For a minute, I thought that Karnax had gotten what he wanted, until I realized that he was not satisfied- only furious.
“You’re just making it worse for yourself. You show no pain, eh? Well let’s see how long that lasts!”